by Sue Diemer
High school students who have taken one semester of art fundamentals are generally the students who take Painting. As a semester class, the students are primarily exposed to watercolor and acrylic. Watercolor is the first area that we delve into, working with many techniques and several larger scale projects.
Acrylic is a different type of challenge for the Painting students. The opacity and dry times are unfamiliar at first. This Pattern/Doodle project is an opportunity to create a non-representational artwork that allows them to gain confidence in color mixing and acrylic color application.
The students needed to be pushed to create a variety of interesting and detailed patterns. Dots on a color field were not enough of a pattern to be interesting. Using their devices, as well as available books, the students were able to design a more complex doodle that had visual appeal throughout the composition.
Since acrylic was new to the students, brush maintenance and palette/paint storage were both an integral part of this initial acrylic project. Two tips that really helped were: all acrylic brushes were returned to the cups on my/the teacher’s desk. This way I could quickly assess if the students were cleaning out the brushes. This method of cleaning and storing the brushes also communicated the message that the brushes were special and needed extra care. Additionally, in the past, I have used plastic palettes with lids and was very disenchanted with how the lids fit and how quickly the acrylic dried in the palette (even when you wanted to store the mixed colors!!). So, for this project we used gallon zip lock bags to cover the plastic palettes and found this method kept the paint moist.
Overall, this project was successful for the students that were patient with the details. Generally, this project almost seemed soothing and therapeutic, and almost all the students chose this project as a favorite for the semester.
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